Monday morning, I was upstairs brushing my teeth, trying my best to ignore Benjamin throwing a tantrum on the landing and Zachary screaming about something from the dining room. We had twenty minutes before we needed to be pulling out of the driveway, no one was dressed, and only two of the children had even started breakfast.
I spit and rinsed, then hollered, “What is it?” Zach responded, sobbing incoherently, and I stomped down the stairs. “What?!”
“I have throw up,” he wept.
Shit. He hasn’t thrown up in months, but he has a long history of vomiting up breakfast. He has a very strong gag reflex, and a little bit of post-nasal drip in the morning is likely to bring up a rerun of breakfast.
“OK, don’t move,” I told him. Not that I had to. He’s been through this so many times that he knows the drill: contain the wreckage before cleaning up the child. I grabbed a rag from the table, then thought the better of it. There was an entire cup of orange juice vomit all over his pjs and chair.
This was a job for the Emergency Paper Towels.
Normally, we only use rags, which get thrown in with the rest of our wash. We keep the EPTs for power outages, when we don’t want to be cleaning with rags that won’t get washed anytime soon. And for special cases of Copious Vomit. There were only four towels left on the roll, and I used them to stop the spill before it left his chair, tossing the cardboard roll onto the table. I managed to get the child out of his bottoms, but he pulled off the top – smearing upchuck all over his face.
“OK, now you’re going to need a shower,” I remarked, lifting him carefully and heading for the stairs. Zach, who cannot stand to get his face wet, does not do showers. But I was not drawing a bath with less than 15 minutes before we had to leave the house. I sidestepped his brother, still tantruming on the landing and stood Zach in the shower.
Five minutes later, everyone was at the now-cleaned-up breakfast table, with one child freshly showered and dressed. “What’s this?” Benjamin asked, picking up the empty paper towel roll.
“It’s a paper towel roll,” I told him. “You can have it.”
“No fair!” Zach shouted. “I never get a long one.”
Now, I would like you to know that I bake my children whole-grain muffins and they want Cheerios. I make them fresh waffles and they ask for Goldfish. I buy organic, local produce, and they want bananas from a continent-and-a-half away.
I have made the ordinary exotic, and I have made the exotic ordinary.
Which might explain why Benjamin spent the entire day finding eighty-seven different ways to play with an empty paper towel roll.